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innumerable temptations on all sides? The evening of the Lord's day, while the children of ungodly parents are running about the streets, and learning and practising evil, is the very time, Parents, in which you should more especially instruct yours in the way of the Lord. And your instruction, at these times, will be likely to be attended with more effect, provided they see you consistently zealous and hearty in the work; not like mere actors, who play a part, and, at other times, show nothing of a religious spirit. On the week-days, from time to time, in various circumstances of life, you may often take occasion to press on their minds the fear of God; and it is impossible but their consciences must be in some degree affected, if your life and conversation, by its steadiness and consistency, prove you to be in good earnest.
But if you have indeed their welfare much at heart, you must tenderly watch over them with respect to the besetting evils of their childhood. Idleness must not be suffered in them. You will, for conscience sake, inure them to labour. Rebellion also against lawful authority,--cost you what it may in feeling for their pain,- you must subdue by the rod, if it cannot be done by milder methods. And take care to teach them distinctly the nature of strict honesty and punctuality in their dealings. If they see you pleased with their dexterity in actions not quite honest and just, you will encourage them to proceed further; and dishonesty in little things may soon produce very serious consequences. For however trifling the matter immediately concerned may be, the affair itself of honesty in word and deed is
inexpressibly serious, and so you should always represent it to them. I hope I need not exhort you to guard them, from their earliest years, against profane, filthy, and blasphemous language. It is to be hoped they have no opportunity of learning such under your roofs.
I mention two things more, Cruelty, and Selfishness. Children from early life often show a propensity to both these; and so prove their evil nature. Show them what obligations they are under to God for his mercy, and how necessary it is that they should be merciful. And, instead of instructing them with so very much anxiety how to get and to keep money, and showing real anger or displeasure against them seldom but for waste and extravagance, show them rather how to be generous and friendly. As they grow in life, they will learn carefulness by experience. Guard them, however, against evils in both extremes; but take care, lest you teach them to value this world much, and the next not at all. 3. As your children grow up, if you have laid
, a good foundation in their conscience by storing their minds with the knowledge of the law of God from the most tender years, you may then proceed further, and endeavour to lead them into the knowledge of the way of salvation more distinctly. They will have done so many things for which conscience will accuse them, and have given such evident proofs of their FALLEN NATURE, by the time they come to the age of thirteen or fourteen years, that you may venture to show them more explicitly this great truth, from their own experience. Always impress it on their minds, that they are sinners by NATURE as well as by practice. Show them that the proofs of this are to be found in every page of Scripture. Tell them that experience and observation are continually proving the same thing. Let them be informed, --I am speaking to those who know themselves,-that you also find yourselves, by nature, evil, blind, helpless, and guilty before God. Show them that this is the knowledge, which is to make men humble, and modest, and poor
in spirit, and fit to receive Christianity. Convince them, by every means in your power, that there must be an heartfelt conviction of this, in order to the reception of Christ; and that pride and the want of knowing ourselves are the causes of all the mischief in the world, and keep men from God. Let them know how yourselves found peace and relief to your troubled consciences by Jesus Christ alone, and exhort them much to private prayer for spiritual illumination, and show them all these things in connection with the word of God. Try if you cannot make them reverence that book, and lead them from early life to an acquaintance with it.
If you know any thing of the pleasantness of wisdom's ways, by experience, you cannot but feel it your duty to show them the riches of Christ, and to recommend him as a Saviour to them for their use and benefit. Be unwearied in admonishing them, that HE alone can make them happy, and that he is willing so to do; and let them see how earnest you are for their conversion, comfort, and establishment in real godliness.
4. The office of Confirmation in our church, were it rightly improved, might be of considerable benefit to the rising generation. Let parents remind their children of it from time to time, both those who are as yet too young for it, that they may be prepared for future confirmation, and those who have already been confirmed, that they may consider the obligations it lays them under. Though with too many it is a matter of mere form, it may be turned to good account, as I have known in some instances; and I question not but various Ministers, who have attended duly to the catechizing of youth, have found the happy effects of it. But I am to speak here of the duty of Parents concerning it. Let your children know why they were baptized; what a state of sin and guilt they are naturally in; what privileges of grace are offered them by Jesus Christ; and what their duty is with respect to these things. For instance, when you find them tempted to follow the fashionable vanities of the world, inform them that they are engaged, as persons baptized in the name of Christ, and also obliged by their own personal act, to renounce the pomp and vanity of this wicked world; and that if thousands follow these things and desert their Master, that will be no excuse for them to be unfaithful to their Saviour. On this plan you may distinctly inform them what is the real nature of Christianity, and how bound they are, by the most solemn ties, to serve God in the Gospel of his Son. Teach them particularly to avoid a mere formal spirit in this work, and not to rest satisfied till their hearts are impressed with the importance and excellency of the Christian religion.
So many are the snares, on all sides, laid for youth, that no means should be neglected to restrain them from walking in the broad way to destruction. You, who have the light and comfort of the Gospel, are bound to perpetuate it to posterity if possible. Do what you can : Declensions and corruptions, I fear, there will be : Nor is there a more pregnant proof of the entire corruption of human nature than this, – that after all possible pains taken with youth, yet the life and power of godliness seldom holds for two generations together. Children may profess and respect the same thing which their truly pious parents did ; but seldom indeed do they keep up the same simplicity and earnestness of religion. Human nature too often returns to its original state of corruption. If the life and power of the Gospel appear in any particular generation, it is well if, in the succeeding one, there be found more than form and shadow. Whether a considerable cause of this degeneracy be not, that sufficient pains are not taken for the instruction of youth, it behoves Parents most seriously to consider.
Confirmation takes place at an age, when the Passions are beginning to grow strong; and just before the dangerous period of life, when self-conceit, and headstrong self-will, and violent passions, too often overpower every good principle in the soul. Oh ! how seasonable for Parents then to be much in prayer for their children, and to do all that in them lies to make it a most serious and solemn act. Good catechetical instruction should not be spared. It will be a dismal reproach, on professors of godliness, to have heard sermon after sermon themselves, and to have been remarkable for attendance on religious means, while they have left